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How to Move to Costa Rica from Canada Permanently

Ultimate Guide to Residency & Visas (2024 Update)

Table of Contents

Requirements to move to Costa Rica From Canada

Dreaming of a new life in paradise? In this comprehensive guide, we'll uncover the requirements to move to Costa Rica to help you navigate the bureaucracy without getting lost. So, whether you're seeking a serene retirement destination, a fresh start, or just a change of scenery, you've got two primary pathways to explore: the residency visa and the perpetual tourist visa.

Let’s explore both options and get an answer to the burning question, ‘How do I move to Costa Rica permanently?'

Key Takeaways:

  • There are two main paths to move to Costa Rica permanently: residency visa and perpetual tourist visa.
  • Residency visa offers more legal privileges like access to national healthcare but requires meeting income or investment thresholds.
  • Perpetual tourist visa is for those who enjoy flexibility and a sense of adventure but comes with limitations on legal privileges.
man holding luggage photo

Residency Visa: The Key to Long-Term Living

Getting a residency visa is like unlocking the door to long-term living in this tropical paradise. It's available through various categories, such as:

  • Pensionado (retiree)
  • Rentista (income-based)
  • Inversionista (investor)
  • Nómada digital (digital nomad) – Keep in mind that the Digital Nomad Visa does not fall under the Residency category. It is a 1-year program that can be renewed.

Let's break it down, shall we?

Pensionado Visa Made Simple: Live Your Dream Life in Costa Rica

The Pensionado residency in Costa Rica is your golden ticket to paradise, and it's open to anyone receiving a steady stream of lifetime pension or social benefits. Whether you're a savvy retiree, a military veteran, or enjoying state retirement benefits, as long as your monthly income is $1,000 US or more, you're in. Wondering how much you need to retire in Costa Rica? Apparently, it starts at just $1,000 a month.

The beauty of this deal? No age limits here! Whether you're planning to ride into retirement at 40 or savouring your golden years at 80, the Pensionado residency has your back.

Now, to get your foot in the Costa Rican door, you've got to tick a few boxes:

  • 1️⃣ Show Them the Money

    Prove your monthly pension income is a minimum of $1,000 US.

  • 2️⃣ Hang Your Hat Here

    Spend at least four months a year soaking up the Pura Vida vibes in Costa Rica.

  • 3️⃣ Healthcare Love

    Join in the healthcare system by contributing monthly to the state's healthcare program, CAJA (Costa Rican Department of Social Security). This gives you the golden ticket to comprehensive health coverage.

Rentista Visa: Your Ticket to Costa Rican Bliss Without a Pension

Alright, here's the deal if you're not riding the pension wave. Costa Rica's got a nifty option for folks like you: the Rentista residency. It's your golden ticket to paradise, no pension is required.

To snag this sweet deal, you've got a couple of options:

  • Option 1️⃣: Show them the Money:

    Prove you've got a steady income, not earned in Costa Rica, totalling at least $2,500 per month. A bank in Costa Rica should also vouch for this cash flow for a solid two years.

  • Option 2️⃣: Money in the Bank:

    If you're more of a “money in the bank” kind of person, you can simply deposit $60,000 into an approved Costa Rican bank. This cash stays yours, and they'll hand you $2,500 every month for two years.

Now, here's the catch: You've got to be in Costa Rica for at least four months a year to keep the Rentista vibes going strong. Plus, don't forget to join the CAJA club for your healthcare coverage.

Both the Pensionado and Rentista residencies give you a two-year ticket to Costa Rican paradise, but they need to be renewed. Here's a bonus: if one half of a couple meets the requirements, the other gets a free pass as a dependent.

After three years of living the good life as either a Pensionado or Rentista, you can level up to permanent residency. For Rentistas, this means you can kiss that $60,000 deposit goodbye and enjoy the Costa Rican life without the financial commitment. It's your passport to long-term Pura Vida living!

Inversionista: For the Savvy Investors

If you are a savvy investor, this one is for you: the Inversionista visa. This is your golden ticket to Costa Rica, and here's how you can snag it.

To kickstart your Costa Rican adventure, you will need to make a direct investment in the country. We are talking a minimum of $200,000, and it has to be registered and verified. So, if you were wondering “Can foreigners buy property in Costa Rica?”, the answer is: “Sí, amigo” (or “Yes, my friend”).

Now, here is where the fun begins: you can put your money into various avenues. Think of businesses like tourism, hospitality, manufacturing, or even transportation. Want to invest in property? Go for it! Whether it's commercial or non-commercial, buying land for your personal use or nature preservation, it all counts.

But, there's a catch: you will need to spend at least six months a year in Costa Rica. And if you've got a spouse or partner itching to join the adventure, their application is a separate process.

Now, don't let the term “permanent” fool you. Even if you score permanent Costa Rican residency, you will still need to renew it regularly.

No matter which residency path you choose, once you are approved, you will receive a nifty DIMEX card (Documento de Identidad Migratorio para Extranjeros). It is like your official Costa Rican identity card, and it comes along with your residency renewal. So, gear up for your investor's journey in Costa Rica!

Digital Nomad Visa: Your Remote Work Paradise

Thinking of packing up your laptop and heading to Costa Rica? Hold that thought, because we've got some exciting news for remote workers like you. You can move to paradise and live here for one year without the hassle of leaving the country to get your tourist visa renewed. And guess what? It's not just for solo adventurers. You can bring the whole crew along – your spouse and kids under 25 are invited to join the fun.

So, if you're pulling in a minimum of $3,000 USD per month (or $4,000 USD if you are coming with family), you could be in Costa Rica for one year with the Digital Nomad visa. Keep in mind these are the current requirements, but change is in the wind. There's a proposed law making its way through the Costa Rican Legislative Assembly that's looking to dial it down from $3000 to $2000 (without family) and from $4000 to $3000 (with the whole crew).

Are you ready to blend your work with breathtaking leisure and explore the wonders of Costa Rica? Then this visa is your gateway to a remote work adventure.

Be aware that the Digital Nomad Visa does not fall under the Residency category. It is a 1-year program that can be renewed to a second year only if you have spent at least 180 days of the first year in Costa Rica. After completing the program, you may consider applying for residency status and citizenship in the future.

person standing on concrete railings

Perpetual Tourist Visa: The Nomadic Lifestyle

But if all that residency stuff is not your cup of tea, don't worry! There's another way to sneak into paradise: the perpetual tourist visa.

Many Canadians are moving to Costa Rica on a tourist visa, which typically allows for a 180-day stay. Previously, the maximum was 90 days but it has changed to 6 months for people who are not required to obtain a visa to travel to Costa Rica, including Canadians, Americans and Europeans.

Once that time is up, you just need to leave the country to simply re-enter. You can embark on what's affectionately known as a “border run.” This entails leaving the country briefly and re-entering, effectively renewing your tourist visa. You just need to show a ticket to prove that you are leaving Costa Rica again in 6 months.

You have a couple of options to do the “border run”:

  • you can either handle it independently or opt for an organized company trip
  • you can cross the Nicaraguan border and return on the same day if you are settled in the North
  • you can embark on a brief excursion to Panama
if you are in the South
  • or for those looking to spend quality time with loved ones, just go and visit family and friends

The key is to leave the country and re-enter with evidence of your intent to exit again within the next 6 months. That way, you will get your passport stamped and you will be all set.

While the unofficial route can be exciting and cost-effective, it comes with some caveats. The main one is that you won't have the same legal privileges as residents, like access to national healthcare. However, for those who enjoy flexibility and a sense of adventure, this can be a thrilling way to experience Costa Rica.

So, whether you're the meticulous planner opting for the official path or the adventurous soul embarking on the unofficial journey, Costa Rica offers a warm embrace to Canadians seeking the Pura Vida lifestyle.

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